At first glance, gas isn’t at all green. Both natural gas and LPG are fossil fuels; burning them adds to greenhouse gas emissions.
But how does gas stack up against its alternatives?
A heat pump may seem greener because it uses electricity and most of our electricity is generated from renewable hydro and wind sources. However, during winter those sources are supplemented from coal- and gas-fired sources – so winter electricity is only semi-green.
Wood is a renewable resource. But the big woodburner problem is atmospheric pollution. Even the cleanest of modern woodburners emit fine-particle pollution in their smoke. Those particles can lodge in people’s lungs and cause respiratory problems. And it's not just Christchurch and Nelson that have problems: there are many places that regularly exceed our air-quality standard.
Gas fires emit greenhouse gases but are otherwise nearly pollution-free. And, on balance, we think burning gas directly for heat is an effective use of the resource … possibly more effective than turning it into electricity for heating.
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